Man accused of San Fernando Valley crime spree is charged with 4 murders, 2 attempted murders

 In blog, Crime News: Los Angeles Daily News

Man accused of San Fernando Valley crime spree is charged with 4 murders, 2 attempted murders

by Josh Cain

Gerry Dean Zaragoza – accused of a 12-hour-long rampage that left his dad, a brother, a female acquaintance and a bus passenger dead last week – was charged on Monday with four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of attempted robbery.

Prosecutors included a special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders – which, if he is convicted of all of the charges, makes him eligible for the death penalty.

Later Monday afternoon, Zaragoza was expected to make his first court appearance in Van Nuys.

The 26-year-old, authorities say, shot family members at a Canoga Park apartment, also leaving his mom injured from a gunshot to a hand, then shot dead a woman at a North Hills gas station, also injuring a man, and randomly killed a bus passenger on the Orange Line in Van Nuys before getting arrested at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

A possible motive for the crime spree remains unclear – a wave of violence in which, police say, he tried to rob a man at a bank ATM, but the victim had no money and escaped harm.

Killed were: Carlos I. Zaragoza, 56, Carlos Pierre Zaragoza, 33, and Azucena Lepe, 45, the coroner’s office said on Friday. Over the weekend, the coroner’s office identified the bus passenger who was killed: Detwonia Harris, 55, of Reseda.

Saturday evening, there was a vigil at the bus station, at Victory Boulevard and Woodley Avenue in Van Nuys, were Harris was shot while on the bus.

Breann Bonnell, a Van Nuys resident, was at the vigil.

She had known him for 15 years, as he was going through treatment for alcoholism. Before he died, she said, Harris was sober and turning his life around, working in a warehouse.

He recently had reconnected with his young son.

“Whenever he would see my 12-year-old, he’d slip $2 in his pocket,” Bonnell said. “He was just authentic. If you were his friend or you needed help, he’d show you his kind heart.”

She said he was quiet unless he was around his close circle of friends, and she said he was someone who would not sit by if he saw someone in trouble.

“He was not a bystander,” she said. “He was a man of action.”

She said her son was particularly close to Harris. The boy was throwing up and weeping after hearing about the death of their friend.

Bonnell said Harris’ sister had set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his funeral.

Detectives said the suspect did not seem to know Harris, with the shooter seemingly picking his final victim at random.

In court on Monday, Zaragoza appeared briefly at around noon in the defendant holding area before he was whisked back into his cell.

A woman who said she was his sister wept in the gallery as two friends consoled her.

Turning to two others in the gallery, she apologized several times for her brother’s violent rampage.

“I’m so sorry my brother did this,” she said, weeping and shaking. “He did this to everyone he loved. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

All credit goes to Josh Cain Originally published on

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search